Saturday, October 22, 2011

Look for the Obvious.

When I worked for the now defunct Auto Glass Specialists, there was a rather impatient trainer who always started every other sentence with "look for the obvious." This concerned auto glass, but now I apply this truism to everything. If the truism that people that irritate you the most inspire you the most this guy was it. Hopefully, he's doing well and I mean that. However, we're getting off the subject.

I've been a home service professional for 15 years and some months and it never amazes me to see the things people will pass off as repairs. If they work, no harm done, but if they don't they can make the problem even worse. We have some family friends who are looking for a house in the Grand Ledge area. Their children are friends with my son as well. They still live in the same apartment complex we did, but they weren't given a house like I was. They have buy theirs.

Grand Ledge is an expensive place to find a house relative to a good part of the Greater Lansing area. If our friend had chosen to settle in Lansing, she'd probably find a decent place for under $50,000. She did find a really nice Cape Cod in Grand Ledge, move in condition for $100,000. It looks really nice inside and out. Even the basement is clean and the mechanicals are in decent shape. There was new carpeting and hardwood flooring throughout with two full baths and neutral decor. I almost gave this place a clean bill of health, especially after a relative said the structure was okay.

She called me to inspect the furnace, water heater, air conditioner, and plumbing. However, I ended up going over the whole house and found this next to the chimney. The wall board was still wet.

I went home to get my ladder, came back, peeked into the attic and was facing the chimney. The structure around it were still wet and those two spots were in fact daylight next to said chimney. There was even more daylight showing on the other side and to the forward part next to the water stained wood at the top.

I'll spare you and Blogger the rest of the pictures of the attic as they're redundant anyway. The view outside, considering the one in the attic didn't suprise me. The company these owners (from New York mind you) hired put a new roof on complete with new O.S.B. decking. This was soaked around the said chimney too.

My camera phone probably has a zoom, but I've yet to figure it out. Trust me, the flashing was simply a narrow strip of aluminum folded over the top and sides of the chimey and worked around the roof decking under the shingles. A shorter strip was attached to the front and a bead of black caulk squirted over the top edge where it met the brick. It was one of the most half-assed attempts at flashing I'd ever seen. They would have done better using flashing cement instead of this hack job.

Flashing needs to be done in multiple parts. First, the flashing needs to be set around the chimney so that water can't get in around shingles This involves upwards of twenty pieces of metal including a saddle where it faces the gable and an overlapping flashing to keep surface water from leaking around it. Instead, it flows harmlessly off the roof and into the gutters. A counterflashing is also needed to prevent water from getting in between the flashing and the chimney and the only acceptable way to do this is cut a groove, or reglet into the mortar to attach the counterflashing. The result will be leakproof for a couple decades. However, along with the poor flashing job, no counterflashing was even attempted, hence the slipshod caulk instead.

This is what happens when someone tries to hire the low bidder. Though the materials to do this properly should have only cost about $20, the time to do it right might have taken four hours or more. This could have been the profit margin on this job. Besides, this chimney is as of this writing in desparate need of tuck pointing. This means replacing the mortar that has fallen out before installing the roof should have even begun. Good grief!

To add to this, this is not a deal breaker. I would have still bought the house and fixed the work myself or hired a competent roofer to do the job. Not a real big deal. Stripping off that tacky wall board and using drywall in that closet would have been a no brainer. However, the family buying the home has nary a handyman and one of the boys has asthma. Any mold caused by this water coming in will only make his situation worse. Hopefully, this isn't a problem the absentee owners cannot take care of get my friends moved in. It isn't so the materials as the labor to get up there an do it. There are more than enough competent home service professionals who will fix this at the right price. That someone will not be me. I'm not crazy about getting up on this roof. Maranatha!

1 comment:

Walter Grace said...

UPDATE: The owners elected to fix the problems and as no mold was detected, my friends are moving in soon. Hopefully they tuckpointed that chimney.